The first Republican debate is just a little more than a month away (May 2) and there is talk that Sarah Palin has gauged the political winds of fortune and will not be one of the contenders for the 2012 GOP nomination for a presidential run. Bill Kristol, conservative political analyst and an open admirer of Palin, observed during a panel on the media and the middle class at Vanderbilt University that Palin had made a few poor choices, but had good political instincts and probably would not run. He added that she should not be the GOP presidential nominee.
Ben Smith, who moderated the panel, recounted for Politico that Kristol was challenged to tell the audience “with a straight face” that the nomination of Palin for vice president in 2008 “was a good idea.”
Kristol, who was instrumental in bringing the then governor of Alaska to the nation’s attention, said that she was a “reasonable gamble to take.” He followed that with: “I just challenge anyone here who has decided she’s a ridiculous person who can’t hold her own to go back and watch that debate – she did fine, and held her own against the 30 year senator.”
Some would disagree, and many have pointed out that she seemed unsure of the vice president’s duties as outlined in the Constitution and rarely answered any of the moderator’s questions, choosing to speak to whatever topic she wished to speak on.
Kristol said that her decision to quit mid-term as governor of Alaska had been a “questionable” choice but noted that she had since proven that she loves her state “but then I don’t know why she quit as governor.”
He then offered an observation that has been offered by many Republicans, from political strategist Ed Rollins to former Bush speechwriter David Frum: “She has a very shrewd judgment about politics and policy and very good instincts — but she hasn’t done what Reagan … did, which is really educate himself over a number of years.”
He concluded that it was “unlikely” that Palin would even run for president. “I think she’s unlikely to be the Republican nominee,” he said, “and to be honest I think she probably shouldn’t be the Republican nominee for president.”
To add credibility to Kristol’s words, a few days later Sarah Palin herself told Fox News’ Greta van Susteren after her return from overseas, that she could make a difference without being president.
Van Susteren asked about her level of certainty, probably referring to Palin’s telling an Indian audience that it was time that the U. S. put a woman in the White House. Palin replied that she was no closer to a definitive decision, but: “You don’t need an office to make a difference. I’m proof of that.”
But what could generate such a sea change in the direction of the Palin political machine that seemed destined for a White House bid as early as November 2008? The “shrewd judgment” and “good instincts” Bill Kristol extolled at Vanderbilt might be sourced in political polls that have shown the former Alaska governor steadily losing favorability as a viable presidential candidate among members of her own party. Several national polls, including the latest from Gallup, have indicated a drop in support (or a static level while her contenders’ numbers have risen) among Republicans.
Still, she told van Susteren that the door was still open for a possible presidential run… and her instincts can’t disregard the knowledge that national opinion polls are sometimes wrong and can swing in a completely different direction in a matter of days.